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Levels: Learn...

Accomplished teachers facilitate learning by recognizing and responding to learners' varied needs, interests, abilities, developmental levels and backgrounds.
(Prioritizing Student Learning: A Guide For Teachers. Focus on the Foreign Language Learner: Priorities and Strategies. Ed. Lorraine Strasheim. Lincolnwood, IL: National Textbook Co., 1991: 25?]39.)

Perfomance guidelines provide realistic expectations for student performance. The Wisconsin Performance Guidelines are based on the Oral Proficiency Guidelines and the K-12 Performance Guidelines of the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL). Experience suggests that students in K-12 programs are likely to achieve oral proficiency up to the level of intermediate-high. Based on this, the Wisconsin Performance Guidelines are divided into four broad levels, roughly covering the range of the novice and intermediate levels.

Below you will find a description of the four levels of language learning. Each level is defined by what the student can do, not seat time. Therefore, these levels cannot be attached to years of language study.

Descriptions of Four Levels

  • Beginning: This level is more receptive in nature, with the student taking in
    sounds and patterns and then beginning to imitate language heard. The situation is controlled; the speaker is parroting. In other words, a beginner can successfully participate in memorized dialogues and can respond with memorized answers to memorized questions. Thus, accuracy is high. This level targets the novice students as described by the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines.
  • Developing: This level is characterized by language behavior that moves from imitative to reflective (that is, a more thoughtful rather than automatic response to a situation or a question). Students now begin to move out of the controlled box, recombining memorized or learned pieces. They begin to respond in more complete and purposeful ways to meet their practical needs. As students begin to create with language, their accuracy decreases. This level targets the intermediate - low students as described by the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines.
  • Transitioning: This level is characterized by movement from reflective to interactive language behavior. Students are struggling to act more independently in their language, successfully creating with language to express their own thoughts instead of recombining other people’s words. This level targets the intermediate-mid students as described by the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines.
  • Refining: This level is characterized by language behavior moving from interactive to initiative, where the speaker takes on full responsibility for engaging, maintaining, and furthering the conversation. Students can successfully act independently in the new language, initiating with language to meet a wide variety of purposes. This level targets the intermediate-high (pre-advanced) students as described by the ACTFL Proficiency Guidelines.

Please read pp. 29-34 in Planning Curriculum for Learning World Languages guide.

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© 2004 Wisconsin Association For Language Teachers
Last updated: January 5, 2007